Monday, April 28, 2008

traveling child...

Every few years we moved.

That sentence, that simple statement, was the cold hard truth of my childhood.

I was born in Fresno, California. Around the time I was 2 we moved to Baytown, Texas. When I was 5? Back to Fresno.

I must have been 7 or 8 when we moved to Bakersfield, and by the time I was 10 we were living in Vacaville, California.

I may be off by a year here or there but not by much more...

As you can see we moved a lot.

No I wasn't in a military family, my father had long since left the Marines by then.

There was nothing sinister in it, we weren't running from the law.

No one craved a change of scenery, it was just a fact of my father's employment. He worked for the railroad for my entire childhood, for the majority of his life in fact, and for some reason the railroad liked to move him around.

That's how I came to have 6 different homes by the time I started 6th grade.

It made childhood a little tough... not that anyone's childhood is particularly easy. We like to think of the long ago days of innocence and joy but truth be told growing up is hard work. I wouldn't like to relieve it.

Still there are things that stand out as high points, shining examples. As I sit here asking myself who the most important person was in my childhood my mind is going every which way.

Was it my mother who raised me? While my father worked long hard hours and traveled on business my mother was always there. Sometimes she was a stay at home mom, more often she worked long hours and then came home to deal with my brother and I...

Was it my older brother, my constant companion, my torturer, my fellow captive in childhood?

Or my father who was always there, even if it was at the fringes. He and I always butted heads... I was more like him than I would choose to admit.

Today though, today my mind returns to a friend I had for only one year. A friend I never wanted to give up, a little girl named Cheri Visitation.

Was that her real name? I have no idea. I know Cheri was her fist name... I know her last name started with a "V" but somehow Visitation doesn't sound like a real name to me, sounds more like a child's recollection of something she couldn't pronounce or recall... but that doesn't really matter.

What does matter?

She was my close and constant friend in kindergarten. Her everyday presence in class was a miracle to me. We smiled, we laughed, we played. She was my first best friend.

It's easy to forget how much a friend can mean to you at that age, but luckily I have my daughter to remind me.

Cheri... she and I were only friends in that one year.

I know because after that I moved away. The last day I saw her my mom came to our school. She took a Polaroid of my entire class. She took another of me, Cheri and another little girl. I still have it somewhere...

Cheri whose straight black hair I envied. Cheri who didn't have to move. Cheri who I had to say goodbye to on that sunny day. Cheri who I thought of each time I made a new friend, and each time I lost one because we were moving...again.

Cheri.

If she and I were standing next to each other on the street, or if we met in a coffee shop... I would never know it was her. Cheri who was the most important person in my childhood probably will never remember my name... but that's alright. I know that I wasn't to her what she was to me...

She was a fixed point in time when nothing else seemed to stay in place.

***

This post was written in response to David's question on Weekend Wandering; Who is the most important person in your childhood?

If you'd like to answer this in a post on your own blog please link back to his Weekend Wandering post and leave him a comment to let him know. While you letting people know... leave me a comment to let me know as well... I'd love to see what you have to say.

12 comments:

Maggie May said...

Oh, that was lovely. I came here via David & have also written about this topic.
I think Cheri must have missed you terribly when you left. What a pity you couldn't have kept in touch.
A very moving little post.

Bubblewench said...

awesoem post, very moving.

david mcmahon said...

Maybe, just maybe, she'll read this and get in touch with you.

I always enjoy your posts and this was no exception ....

Daryl E said...

What a wonderful post... it made me smile and tear up .. honest. Thank you for sharing such a lovely memory.

Daryl

mielikki said...

would be great if you could find her...

Kimberly said...

Beautifully written. Evokes such feelings of bittersweetness.

Lisa Milton said...

I spent my childhood wishing I could be brand new somewhere, go anywhere new and exciting.

Truth is, there is no escaping loss. I remember each time a friend left town...it's never easy.

holly said...

actually i've just been to this blog of some chick called cheri. she has reminisced about a young lovely childhood friend called cami...

stephanie said...

Lovingly said.

I fondly remember a friend named Lodi who I only played with for one year as a kid - she was the mover, I was not.

So maybe Cheri thinks of you, too.

sybil law said...

Cheri Vacation, clearly.
:)
Good one!

Sandi McBride said...

Ahh, Cheri...for lack of an address and a stamp...we moved quite a bit, too. And then I married a career Navy man and doomed my children to the same life...yet they're very nice children, and I'm sure you are, too...so maybe childhood wasn't so bad, but who would really want to go relive it all? You have to relive the pain with the fun...David sent me over...very nice post...
Sandi

n said...

I really hate to tell you this but it was Cheri' who moved away that summer between kindergarten and first grade. You had her name right, and she was a sweet girl. You were so lonesome for her that I made a look alike doll of her for you. Kalea doesn't like her, I guess she is too weird, maybe she is too big, who knows. NanaKaos